March Reads

Stack of old, beautifully bound books in greens and creams standing on a white table with a vase of white flowers next to them.

No reading challenges this month unless you count being so unwell for most of the first two weeks I wasn’t really capable of reading anything as a challenge. But I have still found the time to finish some books and thoroughly enjoy them, so I shouldn’t really complain too much.

I’m still working my way through the fantasy books I didn’t manage to finish during February and have finished another one this month, Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert, which really dazzled me in all the right ways. Other than that, I think the words eclectic mix is a reasonable description of the books I finished this month.

Reiterating (as always) that I’ve put a variety of links to the books in order to ensure you have the biggest possible choice of where to get a copy if anything takes your fancy. Other than the Amazon link (which will be to the kindle version of the book unless the author is not publishing on kindle) the links are more beneficial to both the author and indie bookshops and Blackwells is included as they ship globally. If I listened to the audiobook version then there will also be link to Audible.

Please also note that all the Bookshop UK links below are affiliated links, meaning that if you choose to purchase via that link then as well as all the indie bookshops signed up to Bookshop UK getting a cut of the sale, I will also get a (very) small amount of money to help keep me herding my words onto the page.

Write It All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink
4.5 stars

Well written, filled with helpful tips, methods and ways of thinking about writing and also filled with kindness. I finished this book feeling both encouraged and reassured. Highly recommended if you feel you feel discouraged or simply need a boost with your writing. 

Author Website | Amazon UK | Blackwells | Bookshop UK | Audible

The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor
4.75 stars

Andrew Taylor is one of my favourite historical fiction writers and this series (of which this is the sixth book) my favourite of his work.

This is another well plotted mystery with excellent continuations of the character arcs of both Marwood and Lovett and fantastic historical detail of late 17th century England woven throughout. I hope Andrew carries on writing in this series and very much recommend this particular continuation of it.

I must also urge you, if you haven’t read any of this series yet, to acquire Ashes of London (the first book) and start reading immediately!

Author Website | Amazon UK | Blackwells | Bookshop UK

Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert
5 stars

I normally write my book reviews as soon as I’ve finished each book but when I read the final page of this all I could muster was the following, which went onto Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon:

“Just finished reading this and it was so good I’m struggling to coherently review it. I just want to pour superlatives everywhere and press copies into everyone’s hands so they can experience it themselves.”

I know it persuaded one of my friends to buy a copy there and then and several other people asked about it so I provided a link to Zoe’s website but now I have calmed down I would like to talk about what made it such a wonderful reading experience for me.

This is a book about the intersections between folklore, history, humanity and ecology. It is rooted in one myth (Herne the Hunter) and one place (Great North Wood but is played out across time, both past and future. It is not one coherent narrative but rather chronologically linked short stories, woven together with chants and poems and charms, all combining to tell an overarching story. It is both microcosm and macrocosm and each page is a portal to another world. It swept me away and returned me changed and charged with intent and energy. It was magical from start to finish as well as being beautifully crafted in every sense and I can’t wait to read Zoe’s other work.

Author Website | Amazon UK | Blackwells | Bookshop UK

Enchantment: Reawakening Wonder in an Exhausted Age by Katherine May
5 stars

If you have found yourself feeling adrift in yourself and your creativity since the pandemic began then this might just be the book you need you need; it does exactly what it promises in the strap line.

Using the four elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air as the bones of the text, Katherine uses her own life to explore the concept of enchantment as something that we have lost and need to find once more in order to reawaken ourselves in the world we now inhabit.

It is not a self help book in the traditional sense of the term, nor is it nature writing, and it’s not wholly a memoir either. It’s a wonderful mixture of all those things and more, inviting into an immersive reading experience that asks us to each apply the thought processes happening across the pages to our own lives.

It was published in the middle of this month and was just the thing to read as I recovered from my illness; full of interesting concepts, kindness, caring and introspection, it spoke to my core. I cannot recommend it enough!

Author Website | Amazon UK | Blackwells | Bookshop UK

Lost Realms: Histories of Britain from the Romans to the Vikings by Thomas Williams
4.5 stars

A well written and cleverly structured look at the history of the British Isles during what is often referred to as the Dark Ages; the book focuses on nine of the smaller kingdoms present within that time frame, charting their individual histories from origin to demise.

Thomas Williams, to his credit, takes great care to make clear when he is making conjecture from the sources he used and so there are a lot of possiblys and probablys throughout. This is absolutely not a bad thing in any way but it bears acknowledging since you are not coming away with a definitive history of Elmet, Hwicce, Lindsey, Dumnonia, Essex, Rheged, Powys, Sussex and Fortriu. Instead you are being given a plausible story for each of them given the information available through archeological finds and the texts we have (Bede being the ever present star of that show).

This is a part of history I am very interested in, and so have at least a passing familiarity with much of what was discussed, yet I at no point felt like I was retreading old ground. It was well researched, well balanced, very accessible and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, even if I did occasionally mix up some of the people with the more similar sounding names in my head.

I listened to this book via Audible and found Matt Addison narration to be excellent.

Author Website | Amazon UK | Blackwells | Bookshop UK | Audible

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